ALL THAT IS LOST BETWEEN US
Author: Sara Foster
Simon & Schuster RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Gothic undertones of secrets, lies and suspense are beautifully drawn out by Sara Foster in her latest novel, All That is Lost Between Us. I’ve been a fan of Foster since her first novel, and while her writing and storytelling has always been strong, it’s getting stronger still. Foster has an uncanny ability to bring readers into the heart of the suspense, so that they stay up late, hearts thumping, to find out what happens.
All That is Lost Between Us bursts with secrets. Seventeen-year-old Georgia has a secret that burns at her, but she can’t tell anyone. The one person she wants to tell, Sophia, has been injured in a hit and run witnessed by Georgia. Now the police, her parents, Sophie’s parents – everyone – wants answers. Georgia’s mother Anya, a school psychologist, knows her daughter is traumatised, and simultaneously wants to protect her and help her. But, as she discovers, it’s not that easy to deal with your own child’s trauma, especially when you only know part of the story.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s father has his own secret – a guilt that eats at him and his relationship with Anya; and Zac, Georgia’s younger brother has his own issues that no one has eyes to see, the least of which is discovering Georgia’s secret. Burdened with knowledge too big for his young mind to handle alone, Zac makes the choice to share the secret with a trusted person. The consequence implodes the family and sends Georgia running through the countryside, right into danger.
With England’s Lake District as the setting, complete with foggy, stark, rugged terrain that’s as beautiful as it is fraught with danger, Foster creates an atmosphere of high suspense that barely falters. She goes further than choosing a setting, giving some of her characters roles as fell runners (or hill/mountain runners), who, according to my cross-referencing, are variously described as determined, crazy, eccentric, strong-minded and self-sufficient. Those who take up this sport soon learn that you can’t put a foot wrong; it only takes a small, loose rock to cause even the best to stumble. The more I read of this book (and of fell running), the more I applauded Foster’s choice in including this sport – it upped the suspense ante by miles. While I was never convinced to take up the sport, reading this has reinforced my desire to at least walk in the Lake District one day.
Foster also builds the suspense into the relationships between her characters. Georgia and her family are all walking on eggshells, their emotions on edge as they hold back words, secrets and truths, communicating only in verbal and non-verbal lies, or omissions of fact. Their guilt, fear, lies and secrets weigh them down, making them tense. It’s a tension which translates to the reader as they relate to both the feelings of teenagers trying to separate from parents, and adults fearing they have lost connections with their loved ones; the book’s title aptly sums this up. Adding to the tension, there’s the underlying question of why people tell lies. To protect? To betray? What if by lying to protect someone you betray them instead? Having to make that choice creates tension in itself. And while thrills and goosebumps come from outside the family dynamic, bringing danger into the family’s midst, it’s the tension in the family that feels the most real.
Do yourself a favour. Read this book. Read all of Sara Foster’s books if you haven’t already. She’s one of those writers who delivers top-notch books but doesn’t make a huge fuss … but readers, she deserves that fuss. Her writing is excellent, her stories a thrill to read; she’s skilled at making multiple perspectives work, and the tension will keep the pages turning.
Available from good bookstores. My ARC was courtesy of Simon and Schuster as part of the blog tour below, which includes reviews, guest posts and interviews with Sara, and more.